American Murder: Three True Crime Classics

Open Road Media
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Three riveting accounts of horrific crimes and the twisted minds behind them by an Edgar Award–winning author, in one volume.

A father’s ultimate betrayal, a savage killing spree that terrorized Los Angeles, and the brutal slaying of a rich man’s college-aged daughter. In this heart-stopping true crime collection, New York Times–bestselling author Darcy O’Brien uncovers the dark underside of the American dream.
 
Murder in Little Egypt: Dr. John Dale Cavaness selflessly attended to the needs of his small, southern Illinois community. But when Cavaness was charged with the murder of his son Sean in December 1984, a radically different portrait of the physician and surgeon emerged. Throughout the three decades he had basked in the admiration and respect of the people of Little Egypt, Cavaness was privately terrorizing his family, abusing his employees, and making disastrous financial investments. In this New York Times bestseller, as more and more grisly details come to light, so too does rural America’s heritage of blood and violence become clear.
 
The Hillside Stranglers: For weeks, the body count of sexually violated, brutally murdered young women escalated. With increasing alarm, Los Angeles newspapers headlined the deeds of a serial killer they named the Hillside Strangler. But not until January 1979, more than a year later, would the mysterious disappearance of two university students near Seattle lead police to the arrest of a security guard—the handsome, charming, fast-talking Kenny Bianchi—and the discovery that the strangler was not one man but two. The Hillside Stranglers is the disturbing portrait of a city held hostage by fear and a pair of psychopaths whose lust was as insatiable as their hate.
 
A Dark and Bloody Ground: On a sweltering evening in August 1985, three men breached Roscoe Acker’s alarm and security systems, stabbed his daughter to death, and made off with over $1.9 million in cash. The killers were part of a hillbilly gang led by Sherry Sheets Hodge, a former prison guard, and her husband, lifetime criminal Benny Hodge. The stolen money came in handy shortly afterward, when they used it to lure Kentucky’s most flamboyant lawyer, Lester Burns, into representing them. “The smell of wet, coal-laden earth, white lightning, and cocaine-driven sweat rises from these marvelously atmospheric—and compelling—pages” (Kirkus Reviews).
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About the author

Darcy O’Brien is the author of the novels A Way of Life, Like Any Other, which won the Ernest Hemingway Award for Best First Novel in 1978, and The Silver Spooner, as well as the nonfiction bestseller Two of a Kind: The Hillside Stranglers. He died in 1998.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road Media
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Published on
Jul 11, 2017
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Pages
1632
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ISBN
9781504047173
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Criminals & Outlaws
Social Science / Violence in Society
True Crime / Murder / Serial Killers
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The riveting true crime account of the Hillside Stranglers and the horrific serial killings they unleashed on 1970s Los Angeles.
 
For weeks that fall, the body count of sexually violated, brutally murdered young women escalated. With increasing alarm, Los Angeles newspapers headlined the deeds of a serial killer they named the Hillside Strangler. The city was held hostage by fear.
 
But not until January 1979, more than a year later, would the mysterious disappearance of two university students near Seattle lead police to the arrest of a security guard—the handsome, charming, fast-talking Kenny Bianchi—and the discovery that the strangler was not one man but two.
 
Compellingly, O’Brien explores the symbiotic relationship between Bianchi and his cousin Angelo Buono, their lust for women as insatiable as their hate, before examining the crimes they remorselessly perpetrated and the lives of the unsuspecting victims they claimed.
 
Equally riveting is O’Brien’s account of the trial—one of the longest and most controversial criminal court cases in American history—with the defense team parading, one after another, expert witnesses who had been effectively duped by Bianchi’s impersonation of a man suffering multiple personality disorder. It’s one way a man might contrive to get away with murder.
 
Like Truman Capote in In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer in The Executioner’s Song, Darcy O’Brien weds the narrative skill of an award-winning novelist with the detailed observations of an experienced investigator to unravel this chilling true-crime story.
 
An Edgar Award–winning author’s true crime account of a grisly string of killings in Kentucky—and the shocking spectacle of greed that followed.

Kentucky never deserved its Indian appellation “A Dark and Bloody Ground” more than when a small-town physician, seventy-seven-year-old Roscoe Acker, called in an emergency on a sweltering evening in August 1985. Acker’s own life hung in the balance, but it was already too late for his college-age daughter, Tammy, savagely stabbed eleven times and pinned by a kitchen knife to her bedroom floor. Three men had breached Dr. Acker’s alarm and security systems and made off with the fortune he had stashed away over his lifetime.

The killers—part of a three-man, two-woman gang of the sort not seen since the Barkers—stopped counting the moldy bills when they reached $1.9 million. The cash came in handy soon after when they were caught and needed to lure Kentucky’s most flamboyant lawyer, the celebrated and corrupt Lester Burns, into representing them. Full of colorful characters and desperate deeds, A Dark and Bloody Ground is a “first-rate” true crime chronicle from the author of Murder in Little Egypt (Kirkus Reviews).
 
“An arresting look into the troubled psyches of these criminals and into the depressed Kentucky economy that became fertile territory for narcotics dealers, theft rings and bootleggers.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“The smell of wet, coal-laden earth, white lightning, and cocaine-driven sweat arises from these marvelously atmospheric—and compelling—pages.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“A fascinating portrait of the mountain way of life and thought that forged the lives of these criminals.” —Library Journal 
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The haunting true story of the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California during the 70s and 80s, and of the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case—which was solved in April 2018.

Introduction by Gillian Flynn • Afterword by Patton Oswalt

“A brilliant genre-buster.... Propulsive, can’t-stop-now reading.”   —Stephen King

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Utterly original and compelling, it has been hailed as a modern true crime classic—one which fulfilled Michelle's dream: helping unmask the Golden State Killer.

New York Times Bestseller: The “fascinating” true story of John Dale Cavaness, a much-admired Illinois doctor—and the cold-blooded killer of his own son (The Washington Post).

 Fusing the narrative power of an award-winning novelist and the detailed research of an experienced investigator, author Darcy O’Brien unfolds the story of Dr. John Dale Cavaness, the southern Illinois physician and surgeon charged with the murder of his son Sean in December 1984. Outraged by the arrest of the skilled medical practitioner who selflessly attended to their needs, the people of Little Egypt, as the natives call their region, rose to his defense.
But during the subsequent trial, a radically different, disquieting portrait of Dr. Cavaness would emerge. Throughout the three decades that he enjoyed the admiration and respect of his community, Cavaness was privately terrorizing his family, abusing his employees, and making disastrous financial investments. As more and more grisly details of the Cavaness case come to stark Midwestern light in O’Brien’s chilling account, so too does the hidden gothic underside of rural America and its heritage of violence and blood.
 
“A meticulous account . . . An implicit indictment of a culture that condones and encourages violent behavior in men.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“A fascinating story, and Darcy O’Brien does a great job of structuring it for suspense.” —The Washington Post
 
“Riveting.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“A terrifying story of family violence and the community that honored the perpetrator.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“Stunning material . . . Handled with justice and fastidiousness by a natural storyteller.” —Seamus Heaney, winner of the Nobel Prize
New York Times Bestseller: The “fascinating” true story of John Dale Cavaness, a much-admired Illinois doctor—and the cold-blooded killer of his own son (The Washington Post).

 Fusing the narrative power of an award-winning novelist and the detailed research of an experienced investigator, author Darcy O’Brien unfolds the story of Dr. John Dale Cavaness, the southern Illinois physician and surgeon charged with the murder of his son Sean in December 1984. Outraged by the arrest of the skilled medical practitioner who selflessly attended to their needs, the people of Little Egypt, as the natives call their region, rose to his defense.
But during the subsequent trial, a radically different, disquieting portrait of Dr. Cavaness would emerge. Throughout the three decades that he enjoyed the admiration and respect of his community, Cavaness was privately terrorizing his family, abusing his employees, and making disastrous financial investments. As more and more grisly details of the Cavaness case come to stark Midwestern light in O’Brien’s chilling account, so too does the hidden gothic underside of rural America and its heritage of violence and blood.
 
“A meticulous account . . . An implicit indictment of a culture that condones and encourages violent behavior in men.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
“A fascinating story, and Darcy O’Brien does a great job of structuring it for suspense.” —The Washington Post
 
“Riveting.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“A terrifying story of family violence and the community that honored the perpetrator.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“Stunning material . . . Handled with justice and fastidiousness by a natural storyteller.” —Seamus Heaney, winner of the Nobel Prize
The riveting true crime account of the Hillside Stranglers and the horrific serial killings they unleashed on 1970s Los Angeles.
 
For weeks that fall, the body count of sexually violated, brutally murdered young women escalated. With increasing alarm, Los Angeles newspapers headlined the deeds of a serial killer they named the Hillside Strangler. The city was held hostage by fear.
 
But not until January 1979, more than a year later, would the mysterious disappearance of two university students near Seattle lead police to the arrest of a security guard—the handsome, charming, fast-talking Kenny Bianchi—and the discovery that the strangler was not one man but two.
 
Compellingly, O’Brien explores the symbiotic relationship between Bianchi and his cousin Angelo Buono, their lust for women as insatiable as their hate, before examining the crimes they remorselessly perpetrated and the lives of the unsuspecting victims they claimed.
 
Equally riveting is O’Brien’s account of the trial—one of the longest and most controversial criminal court cases in American history—with the defense team parading, one after another, expert witnesses who had been effectively duped by Bianchi’s impersonation of a man suffering multiple personality disorder. It’s one way a man might contrive to get away with murder.
 
Like Truman Capote in In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer in The Executioner’s Song, Darcy O’Brien weds the narrative skill of an award-winning novelist with the detailed observations of an experienced investigator to unravel this chilling true-crime story.
 
An Edgar Award–winning author’s true crime account of a grisly string of killings in Kentucky—and the shocking spectacle of greed that followed.

Kentucky never deserved its Indian appellation “A Dark and Bloody Ground” more than when a small-town physician, seventy-seven-year-old Roscoe Acker, called in an emergency on a sweltering evening in August 1985. Acker’s own life hung in the balance, but it was already too late for his college-age daughter, Tammy, savagely stabbed eleven times and pinned by a kitchen knife to her bedroom floor. Three men had breached Dr. Acker’s alarm and security systems and made off with the fortune he had stashed away over his lifetime.

The killers—part of a three-man, two-woman gang of the sort not seen since the Barkers—stopped counting the moldy bills when they reached $1.9 million. The cash came in handy soon after when they were caught and needed to lure Kentucky’s most flamboyant lawyer, the celebrated and corrupt Lester Burns, into representing them. Full of colorful characters and desperate deeds, A Dark and Bloody Ground is a “first-rate” true crime chronicle from the author of Murder in Little Egypt (Kirkus Reviews).
 
“An arresting look into the troubled psyches of these criminals and into the depressed Kentucky economy that became fertile territory for narcotics dealers, theft rings and bootleggers.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“The smell of wet, coal-laden earth, white lightning, and cocaine-driven sweat arises from these marvelously atmospheric—and compelling—pages.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
“A fascinating portrait of the mountain way of life and thought that forged the lives of these criminals.” —Library Journal 
From a PEN/Hemingway Award–winning author: The true story of Pope John Paul II, his Jewish childhood friend, and a milestone in religious history.
 
In October 1978, Karol Wojtyla, Polish Archbishop of Krakow, became Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian pontiff in 455 years. He had a mission to improve the Catholic Church’s relations with Judaism, Islam, and the Anglican Communion. Only days after the election, he granted Jerzy Kluger, a virtually unknown Jewish businessman, the privilege of first audience at the Vatican. Jerzy was overwhelmed, but not surprised. When they were children, Karol and Jerzy were best friends, known then as Lolek and Jurek. For the pope, this union of Catholic and Jewish faiths was a profound symbol of things to come. It was also a personal gesture that reflected a remarkable bond between the two men.
 
The Hidden Pope is the story of that relationship, from their simple boyhood in the small town of Wadowice in southern Poland to their separation at the beginning of World War II and their survival under Nazi occupation and Soviet tyranny. The reunion almost thirty years later—after Jerzy lost his family in the Holocaust and spent years in Stalinist labor camps—would not only deepen a friendship, but also afford Jerzy a unique perspective on papal intrigue and policies when he was eventually appointed diplomat between the Vatican and Israel.
 
Set against the landmark events of the twentieth century, and the monumental reconciliation between Christianity and Judaism, this singular portrait of John Paul II reveals him as only one of his closest friends can. Readers will come to know the Holy Father as a man, to understand his controversial ideas as expressions of his life experiences, and to discover the genesis of an enduring friendship that would impact the world.
 
The Hidden Pope is “a fascinating personal tale played out against the great moments of modern European history. . . . Anyone intrigued by the often surprising confluences of history, politics and religion will relish this impressive study in faith, friendship and mutual respect” (Publishers Weekly).
 
This PEN/Hemingway Award winner about coming of age in Los Angeles is a “little gem of a novel . . . a masterwork of Hollywood fiction” (Salon).

He’s a child of 1940s Hollywood—specifically, Casa Fiesta, a ranch in the Malibu hills that he shares with his mother, a onetime Broadway headliner, and his father, a star of Westerns. But when his parents fall out of favor in Tinseltown, the narrator of this exquisitely crafted dark comedy loses his youthful idyll and accompanies his lovesick mother on a vodka-soaked international quest for romance and redemption. Meanwhile, his father lives in “diminished circumstances” in California, clinging to his silver-screen mementos, trusting that, someday soon, his ex-wife and his career will return.

Tired of tending bar at his mother’s parties and listening to his father’s sad tales of former glory, the boy moves in with his best friend’s family in Beverly Hills. But nothing in La-La Land is quite what it seems, and when his new home turns out to be just as dysfunctional as the last, our teenage hero must somehow learn to accept his parents while finding the courage to break free and become his own man.

This award-winning novel, “a kind of Catcher in the Rye for the Cheap Trick generation” (GQ), was cited by the Guardian as one of the “ten best neglected literary masterpieces.” Written by a New York Times–bestselling author who was a child of Hollywood movie stars himself, it has been praised for its “spectacularly deadpan humor” by the Atlantic Monthly and called “an insightful coming-of-age tale” by the Austin Chronicle.
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